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Bradshaigh [née Bellingham], Dorothy, Lady Bradshaigh (bap. 1705, d. 1785), letter writer, was baptized on 21 March 1705 at Rufford, Lancashire, the younger of the two daughters of William Bellingham (c.1660–1718), son of James and Elizabeth Bellingham of Levens, Westmorland, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William Spencer of Ashton, Lancashire, and widow of Robert Hesketh of Rufford (d. 1697). The Bellinghams were a prominent landed family, but the estate inherited by Dorothy's father in 1693 had been squandered by his elder brother Alan (1656–1693), and Levens Hall, the Bellingham home for more than a century, had been sold. Called to the bar in 1686, William Bellingham seems to have practised the law for a while, but his marriage of 1703 restored his fortunes and provided the Rufford home in which Dorothy and Elizabeth Echlin, his coheirs, were raised with their half-sister, Elizabeth Hesketh (1694–1776). He also seems to have retained some Bellingham lands in Poulton, near Lancaster, so that his death in 1718 (little regretted by a daughter to whom ‘he had made himself indifferent … by his cool and awful behaviour’) left her ‘the mistress of a considerable fortune’ (Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, 4.272–3). It is likely that Dorothy Bellingham then lived in the Preston household of Edward Stanley (1689–1776), afterwards earl of Derby, who had married Elizabeth Hesketh in 1714, and of whom she later spoke as being ‘not only a Brother, but a Father’ (V&A, Forster MSS, XI, fol. 19). She was resident in Preston at the time of her marriage on 6 April 1731 to Roger Bradshaigh (1699–1770) of Haigh, near Wigan, who became fourth baronet on the death of his father in 1747. The courtship was complex (she later described herself as ‘one who obstinately refused her lover for nine years, and was prevailed upon to alter her condition in the tenth’; Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, 4.260) , but on marriage they became a devoted couple. They reportedly honoured the debts incurred by the ‘parliamentary mania’ of the third baronet, and from 1742, when they took over Haigh Hall, they lived quietly on ‘a straitened income’ (GM, 74, 1804, 900). Sir Roger restored the estate by exploiting its deposits of cannel (a high-grade, jet-like coal, from which, as though to blazon the source of their returning wealth, Lady Bradshaigh built a summer house). The house was briefly commandeered by the Jacobite army in 1745, but otherwise there was little to disturb an existence which Lady Bradshaigh divided between social pursuits in Lancashire and London, and practical or charitable tasks which included cow-doctoring, training fallen women for service, and endowing an almshouse for retired miners. There were no children, and the baronetcy became extinct at Sir Roger's death. Lady Bradshaigh owes her place in literary history to her voluminous correspondence with the novelist Samuel Richardson, which Richardson circulated in manuscript and considered publishing as ‘the best Commentary that cd. be written on the History of Clarissa’ (Selected Letters of Samuel Richardson, 336). Elaborate ruses surrounded the early exchanges, which began when Lady Bradshaigh addressed him in two anonymous letters of July 1748, pleading for a happy ending to Clarissa, the serial publication of which was then in progress. Richardson replied by advertising in the Whitehall Evening Post, and for the next eighteen months she besieged him with letters written under the pseudonym Belfour, which elicited in reply (along with much sparring and banter) some of his most revealing literary statements. Lady Bradshaigh disclosed her identity only in February 1750, and the two at last met in March. Thereafter she consolidated her position as the most intimate and influential member of Richardson's literary circle, voicing her instinctively sentimental responses to the novels with an eloquence that remained unaffected by her distaste for learning in women. Richardson did not exaggerate when telling her that Sir Charles Grandison (1753–4) was

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‘owing to you … more than to any one Person besides’ (ibid., 319), and the influence persisted in revisions later made to the work in response to her marginal annotations. In his final months he borrowed her annotated copies of Pamela and Clarissa, apparently with a view to undertaking comparable revisions. Many of her letters appeared in Barbauld's Correspondence of Samuel Richardson (1804); the Clarissa annotations, with Richardson's marginal responses and her sketch of an alternative ending, were published in 1998. Robust in personality and appearance, Lady Bradshaigh described herself in 1749 as ‘middleaged, middle-sized, a degree above plump, brown as an oak wainscot, a good deal of country red in her cheeks’ (Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, 4.300–01). She was probably right to see herself in the vivacious Charlotte of Sir Charles Grandison, and the same identification was made by her sister, Lady Echlin, who recalled her rebellious nature in youth and still found her, in middle age, ‘this ungovernable Lady B—’ (Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, 5.31). Her great-niece reported that she ‘carried a dash of Miss Do [her childhood nickname] to the latest period of her valuable existence’ (GM, 74, 1804, 900). She died at Haigh, and was buried in the Bradshaigh family vault at All Saints, Wigan, on 21 August 1785. Thomas Keymer Sources T. C. D. Eaves and B. D. Kimpel, Samuel Richardson: a biography (1971) · The correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. A. L. Barbauld, 6 vols. (1804) · V&A NAL, Forster Library, Richardson papers · parish register, Croston, Lancashire · parish register, All Saints, Wigan, Lancashire · Selected letters of Samuel Richardson, ed. J. Carroll (1964) · Betha [E. (Palmer) Budworth], GM, 1st ser., 74 (1804), 899–900 · Betha [E. (Palmer) Budworth], GM, 1st ser., 83/2 (1813), 307 · VCH Lancashire · HoP, Commons, 1660–90 · HoP, Commons, 1715–54 · T. Keymer, ‘Richardson, Incognita, and the Whitehall Evening Post’, N&Q, 237 (1992), 477–80 · J. Barchas and G. D. Fulton, eds., The annotations in Lady Bradshaigh's copy of ‘Clarissa’ (1998) · A. J. Hawkes, Bradshaigh pedigree, Chetham miscellanies, Chetham Society, new ser., 8 (1945), i · A. D. Bagot, Levens Hall [1963] · GEC, Baronetage · Burke, Peerage (1840) · J. Burke and J. B. Burke, A genealogical and heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies of England, Ireland, and Scotland (1838) · J. Foster, ed., Pedigrees recorded at the herald’s visitations of the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland (1891) · J. Nicolson and R. Burn, The history and antiquities of the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, 2 vols. (1777) · W. P. Baildon, ed., The records of the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn: admissions, 1 (1896) · J. A. Wood, ‘The chronology of the Richardson–Bradshaigh correspondence of 1751’, Studies in Bibliography, 33 (1980), 182–91 · A. L. Reade, ‘Samuel Richardson and his family circle [pt 4]’, N&Q, 12th ser., 11 (1922), 383–6 Archives Hunt. L., annotated copy of Sir Charles Grandison (vol. 7 only) · NL Scot., papers in Crawford Muniments · Princeton University, New Jersey, Robert H. Taylor collection, annotated copy of Clarissa | V&A, Forster MSS, letters to Richardson Likenesses E. Haytley, double portrait, oils, 1746 (with her husband), History Shop, Wigan · attrib J. Highmore, double portrait, oils, c.1750 (with her husband), repro. in Kerslake, Early Georgian portraits (1977), vol. 2, pl. 689a; priv. coll. · engraving (after C. Watson), repro. in Barbauld, ed., Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, vol. 5

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Wealth at death substantial: will, 1786, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/1139, fols. 276v–289v © Oxford University Press 2004–5 All rights reserved: see legal notice

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Bradshaigh Dorothy _nee Bellingham_